The last two years have not been good for NRG’s Overwatch team. 2017 was marred by poor performance, instability, negative press, and a continually shifting and ultimately shrinking roster. 2016 wasn’t much better. Until recently, NRG’s Overwatch team seemed all but dead in the water—a veritable eSports Ghost ship reduced to an active roster of one. But they’re hoping to turn that around.

The Rocky Road Recap

While eSports teams may be built on players with outstanding single-player talents, teamwork is vital to success. eSports teams spend hundreds of hours practicing with their team mates, fine tuning every aspect of their skills and teamwork. They learn how their team mates think and play, anticipating timing and strategy beyond what can be communicated through a headset. But NRG had difficulty maintaining a stable roster. Their troubles started around August 2016. Shortly after Mixup signed, players Gods and Pookz left, only to be replaced by Numlocked and Clockwork.

Unfortunately, Clockwork left almost as soon as he had joined, exiting the team 3 months later in December 2016. And then players Milo and Enigma left the team as well. A revolving door of talented players made it difficult to achieve the skills and team work necessary at the highest levels of eSports.
Despite their best efforts under such trying circumstances, major victories eluded them. Regardless, in October 2016 they eked out a 3rd-4th place finish in the APAC Premier. Thankfully, 2017 started on a more promising note when Iddqd joined, followed shortly thereafter by Ajax and Harbleu.

A New Dawn

Entering 2017, NRG was still struggling to stabilize the roster. Iddqd is actually the only player listed on the recently announced, revamped roster for NRG. Seagull stepped down from the active roster in April to focus on streaming—and permanently left the team in September. In May, SeaMoose signed on as coach—only to leave 3 months later and get replaced by Brad Rajani, the former owner of Selfless Gaming. And then three more would leave the team: Ajax left NRG in May, followed by Dummy a month later, and Numlocked a month after that. Then Harbleu left the active roster in August 2017. The string of departures effectively left the ailing NRG team with a single active member.

An Army Of One: Down But Not Out!

Although NRG was able to field a full team, their initial efforts were cut short. During the qualifier for Season Zero of Overwatch Contenders, NRG’s Overwatch team didn’t even make it into a top 10 spots—twice—which disqualified them from the first season of the event.

Sinatraa: Signs Of Better Things To Come?

In September 2017, NRG proudly announced that they had signed 17-year-old DPS phenom Jay “Sinatraa” Won to a $150,000 deal. Sinatraa is formerly of Selfless Gaming, and largely considered one of the best Overwatch DPS players in North America. This was a big win for the struggling NRG Overwatch team. Not only did they sign a top-tier player, but it re-united Sinatraa with Brad Rajani, who was now the coach for the NRG Overwatch team. And then finally, September 28th 2017, team NRG excitedly announced a full roster of all-star players for their Overwatch team.
  • Support: Dhak
  • Support: Sleepy
  • Tank: Nomy
  • Tank: Super
  • DPS: BabyBay
  • DPS: Zombs
  • DPS: Daneth
  • DPS: Sinatraa

Bringing the Fight to the South Korean Champions

Team NRG seemed to draw inspiration from being the under dogs going into the Overwatch World Cup, and they definitely brought the thunder—tearing through qualifiers and getting an early victory against the reigning South Korean champions.
The US team won their first round 2-1, lost the second round 3-2, and battled to a 4-4 draw in round three. Rallying, the US team took the lead in the fourth round—but ultimately in a nail-biting 2-1 loss in round four, and a final 2-0 loss in round five.

While a storybook finish after years of overcoming challenges may have eluded NRG this year, they still clearly demonstrated that they have what it takes to compete and win at the highest levels of competitive Overwatch play. In point of fact, compared to the other teams in the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, NRG did the best overall against South Korea with a 4-2 loss. South Korea defeated Russia 3-0, France 3-1, and Canada 4-1. And Team NRG is just getting started. Ending 2017 on an impressive performance will only fire up their all-star roster to train hard and burn up the competition in 2018.